5 Fun Things to do with the Last Weeks of Summer!

Summer is winding down and it’s almost time to start back to school…and to another awesome GS Year! While we are busy getting ready for the start of a new Girl Scout year, we know families want to get the most out of the few weeks we have left of summer. Here are 5 great things to do across our council with those last days of summer break!

Region: East

Event: Madagascar: The Musical

Location: The Coterie Theatre located in Crown Center, Kansas City, MO

Dates/Times: Now – August 7

Tickets/Cost: $12.00 – $17.00 (group discounts available)

Best for: Ages 5+ (humor for the whole family)

Madagascar

Move it! Move it! Wanting to beat the heat this summer? Take your Girl Scouts to see a world premiere stage musical of a favorite children’s movie: Madagascar! It’s a fun, high energy show that kids may already know, so it’s a wonderful way to introduce young women to theatre. Shows do sell out, so they recommend purchasing tickets in advance online. Taking a whole troop or group of 10+? Call the box office at 816.474.6552 and ask about group pricing.

 

Region: Central

Event: Brain: The Inside Story

Location: The Museum at PrairieFire (5801 W. 135th Street Overland Park, KS 66223)

Dates/Times: Now – September 5

Tickets/Cost: $8.00 – $14.00

Best for: All ages (variety of exhibits to engage all age groups)

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Think about it! Explore the part of the human body that’s more complicated than even the best super computer! The Museum at PrairieFire has a limited time exhibit that’s all about the human brain. From 3D printed models, interactive exhibits, and demonstrations. Explore five ways to look at how the brain functions as it relates to senses (Your Sensing Brain), emotions (Your Emotional Brain), thoughts (Your Thinking Brain), how the brain ages (Your Changing Brain), and how technological advances may change our brains in the future (Your 21st Century Brain). Check website for events, tickets and details!

 

Region: West

Event: The Urban Slide

Location: 4th & S Kansas Ave., Topeka, KS 66603

Dates/Times: July 30 & 31

Tickets/Cost: $15.00 – $21.00 (varies by number of rides)

Best for: Ages 5+

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Grab your fellow Girl Scouts for some real fun in the sun! Summer is all about exhilarating activities and what’s better than sliding down a 1000ft waterslide? One of the world’s longest slip & slides is coming to Topeka, KS for just 2 days. You can get a 3 ride wristband or unlimited wristbands to enjoy the fun for hours. This is a great event for the whole family and talk about a great way to finish off the summer fun. The slide does require an inflatable tube to ride, but you’re welcome to bring your own or buy one at the location ($5 online, $8 at the event).

 

Region: North

Event: Kansas City Chiefs Training Camp

Location: Northwest Missouri State University (800 University Dr, Maryville, MO 64468)

Dates/Times: July 30, 31; Aug 5,6,7 & 18

Tickets/Cost: Varies (July 30 & Aug 6 are $5.00)

Best for: All ages

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Support our hometown team, the Kansas City Chiefs and gear up for football season! Join the Chiefs for the First Practice, “American Family” Fun Day and Military Appreciation Events running between July 30 & August 18th! It’s a fun way to grab your favorite Kansas City gear and cheer on this awesome team. Show them just how much you love KC, spend some time with the family and get ready for fall. The event takes place on the campus of Community Partner, Northwest Missouri State University! Check website for event information and be sure to click the “Maps & Directions” button for some really helpful information!

 

Region: East

Event: Jurassic Garden: A Prehistoric Adventure

Location: The Powell Gardens (1609 N.W. U.S. Highway 50, Kingsville, MO 64061)

Dates/Times: Now – October 3

Tickets/Cost: $4.00-$10.00 (festival admission may apply on certain days, check website for schedule)

Best for: All ages

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Take your Girl Scout for an adventure millions of years ago! For a short time the whole family can enjoy the beauty of Powell Gardens AND explore the lost world of dinosaurs and prehistoric plant life! You will encounter incredibly realistic dinosaur replicas, designed by Missouri’s Guy Darrough, a well-known fossil collector, fossil preparation expert and illustrator. From his Lost World Studios in Arnold, Mo., Guy creates realistic models of prehistoric animals using fossilized bones and other materials.  The lifelike dinosaurs, large and small, will be placed throughout the Gardens and include a 32-foot T Rex, 30-foot Hypsibema—Missouri’s state dinosaur, and many more!

BONUS TIP: If you love this exhibit and you love butterflies, check out the 2016 Festival of Butterflies (Aug 5-7 & 12-14). Admission price does increase a few dollars per ticket (some as low as a $1 increase), depending on age, but you’re getting two events for almost the price of one!

 

Do you have a summer fun tip? Share in the comments below! Don’t forget, you only have until Sept 28th to register and be eligible for the “On Time” t-shirt! Now is a great time to reregister for another awesome year of Girl Scouts!

A Tale as Old as Time

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Girl Scouts take over Starlight Theatre

Some girls, at some point, dream about being a princess who is kind to all people and has the courage to save the world. At Girl Scouts, we believe girls can be whatever they dream, and if being kind to others and changing the world is it (and we sure hope so!) – let’s help them get there. One way is by giving girls really cool experiences they can only get as Girl Scouts.

Thanks to Starlight Theatre, over 50 Girl Scouts got to have their princess and theater dream come true last week at a workshop lead by the traveling company of Disney’s Beauty and The Beast, presented by NETworks! This company has been working together for nearly a year and had the pleasure of closing out their tour in Kansas City and sharing all their knowledge and backstage secrets with our girls!

Haley Palmer is the Dance Captain with the production. Since the choreographer and director of the show don’t travel with the cast, her job is to ensure that the dances go exactly how they intended them to go, every single show. Additionally, she is a “swing” and can fill in for any person in the ensemble who has to step into a lead role as an understudy. Haley worked with the girls and taught them the ending choreography to “Be Our Guest” and they performed it on the side stage prior to the start of the show that evening!

Girl Scouts also got to go backstage with the stage manager and production assistant and see all the props, costumes and set up close and personal! The girls were fascinated with all the wigs and costumes that the ensemble changes in and out of during the show. The tour guides offered some really fascinating facts about the show, such as there are no consumable props in this production (no food/drink besides water), that the costume designer won a Tony Award and there are absolutely no photos of the Beast’s mask and makeup due to Disney copyright laws!
Starlight’s Production Manager, Aaron Clark also offered insight into Starlight Theatre’s history and what it takes to host traveling productions like Beauty and The Beast. Often there are more people working backstage than there are actual actors and actresses in the shows! In fact, Starlight hires hundreds of professional stage hands to work the various show throughout the summer!

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At the end of the workshop, two company members joined Haley for a question and answer session. One of those company members was someone the girls could really relate to – DJ who plays Chip! They learned that his favorite part of the show is the number that they rehearsed, that it takes lots of practice and dedication to be a performer, especially as a kid in the show. DJ alternates playing Chip with another child actor because they’re both being homeschooled for a majority of the tour. One fact that DJ shared is that he got the role of Chip from auditioning for another role. The director passed him up for the part he auditioned for and later called him to offer him the role as Chip!
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We are so appreciative of our partnership with Starlight and the opportunities they provide Girl Scouts with every year! There is still a chance to experience a Girl Scout Night at Starlight Theatre at A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder (this show is recommended for Cadettes and older).

Blast off to Space Academy

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A Girl Scout Travel Spotlight: Rebecca Hoff

It’s no secret that Girl Scouting provides girls with opportunities of a lifetime. This is something that Amanda M. communicated at her service unit meeting when talking about her Girl Scout destination experience at the Space Academy in Huntsville, AL.

Lucky for Rebecca Hoff, her mom (and troop leader) was at that meeting. Like Amanda, Rebecca is a Girl Scout Cadette and is always on the lookout for new experiences. So after hearing Amanda speak, Trish knew that a trip like Amanda’s was just up Rebecca’s alley.

After doing some research on all the destination options for Rebecca, they both decided that the Space Academy was the perfect first trip to take.

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When Rebecca arrived at Space Camp, she didn’t know a single soul, but knew everyone at the same time – she was one of 84 other Girl Scouts from around the world!

Girls were split into small groups and Rebecca was assigned to team Ariel, with 14 other Girl Scouts. Throughout the week they learned to work together to accomplish tasks and complete missions. These missions were Rebecca’s favorite part of the experience. “It was so realistic – if you messed up, it actually mattered.”

For each mission the team was equipped with a book – kind of like a play. Each girl was assigned a role and was given lines to say. It was up to them to go through their lines and execute specific tasks; each task impacting those of another crew member.

For their first mission, Rebecca’s role was in mission control and she had to make sure that the people in the rocket ship had enough oxygen as well as survey the weather conditions of their landing spot. This was the only mission that her team performed without any incidents!

Their other missions included a task where Rebecca was strapped into a space suit to complete jobs that mimic those of real astronauts and one where she had to transfer ships in space and board a replica of the International Space Station!

In addition to the missions, Rebecca got to hear from astronauts, Jan Davis (female astronaut) and Jerry Ross (the record holder for the most space walks), participate in anti-gravity activities and go through several team building exercises! “I learned that if you’re going to be a leader, you have to lead but you have to give people the opportunity to express their ideas – it was challenging to get all 15 girls to agree!”

With all the fun Rebecca had, you wouldn’t have known that this was her first real trip away from home.

“Before she went she was very concerned about not knowing anyone there, it was a very big concern.” Trish explained. “Now I think she’ll be less apprehensive about doing something where she doesn’t know anyone.”

Not only did Rebecca come home with a new knowledge of all things space, she also came home with a ton of new Girl Scout friends!

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Left: Team Ariel; Right: Rebecca working on a mission.

“It was an amazing experience. I don’t think I would have that opportunity to do this had it not been for Girl Scouts,” Rebecca said.

Rebecca’s story is the first in a series of Girl Scout destination stories we’ll be bringing you throughout the summer as our other four Girl Scouts return from adventures in the Andes Mountains and Costa Rica, just to name a few!

Girl Scout destinations is a program from GSUSA and trips are being added to their website year-round. Is there a destination location that inspires you to get out of your comfort zone and learn something new?!

A Team Approach to Raising a Troop

Spotlighting Troop Leaders Tori Hirner & Jessica Wright

For most troops, summer time is when you’re hitting the pool with friends, heading out to day camp or packing your bags for vacation. For Troop 545 and the dynamic duo co-leaders Tori Hirner & Jessica Wright, summer time is still active troop time, with a more flexible schedule! These two awesome co-leaders are showing that just because school takes a vacation, Girl Scouts doesn’t have to! Planning hikes, summer take home activities and adventures, Troop 545 never takes a vacation from building woman of courage, confidence, and character.

Tori & Jessica have been leading the 23 Brownies of Troop 545 in Overland Park, KS since the girls were in kindergarten and have watched the entire troop get close. In fact, they’ve had almost 100% retention because of their amazing leadership and the bond the girls share. They especially love how close their daughters have become as Girl Scout sisters. “Our daughters are best friends, they call each other ‘sister,’ they hold hands and tell each other ‘you’re my bestie,’ we just love it,” Jessica said.

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As alumnae, Tori & Jessica also know firsthand the impact Girl Scouts had on their own lives and want to share those lessons with their daughters. “Girl Scouts is all about empowering women – that’s what I want for my daughter. In a world where we still have gender bias, don’t have equal pay and don’t have equality in STEM fields, I want my daughter to know that she can do it and that she’s worth it,” Tori said.

Something the troop loves is all the awesome programming Girl Scouts makes available to troops. They have taken advantage of Community Partner programs, STEM activities and donor sponsored events like Girl Scout Night at Swan Lake in spring 2016. They also plan independent troop activities like rock climbing, hiking and swimming – trying to keep the girls moving and active. “As a former teacher, I know that giving kids experiences is the best way to get them to learn. We want our girls to have experiences they may not be able to have without Girl Scouts,” Tori said. These experiences make a real difference and the leaders see what supporting Girl Scouts can do for girls.

One of the unique approaches to troop management this team has developed is the use of stations in troop meetings. Rather than trying to get all 23 Brownies working on one activity at the same time, they are fortunate enough to have amazing parent support that allows them to have multiple stations and break the girls up into various activities and rotations. They find it keeps the girls more engaged, allows parents to be part of the process and keeps the energy up. The leaders also utilize parent support to run their wildly successful cookie program (100% participation in 2016) and daily activities. What an awesome network these girls have!

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After seeing the impact of Girl Scouts in her own life, Tori Hirner became a Founding Member of Daisy’s Circle, giving a monthly financial gift to Girl Scouts. These two proud Alumnae also give of their time to Service Unit 638, serving as service unit manager (Tori) and service unit treasurer (Jessica).

Seeing the light in the eyes of their “Girl Scout daughters” every time they participate in an event, Tori and Jessica know that their contributions of time and financial gifts are making a difference. Thank you to the incredible Girl Scout volunteers, like Tori and Jessica, who are empowering women, one Girl Scout at a time.

If you know of an awesome Girl Scout volunteer story, share in the comments below!

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A Girl Scout Hiro

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Man Enough to be a Girl Scout – Jerry O’Keefe

When you think of a Girl Scout volunteer, the words “dedicated,” “generous,” and “committed” probably come to mind. Those are great words to describe the awesome Girl Scout dad and volunteer, Jerry O’Keefe! This Scout dad is dedicated to making an amazing troop experience not only for his own daughter, but for the entire Troop 1237 family. Known as “Hiro” at camp, Jerry O’Keefe is a dad who’s showing what it means to be “Man Enough to be a Girl Scout.”

When daughter Hayley was born in 2003, Christine (“Chris”) and Jerry O’Keefe knew they wanted to do their best to raise their only daughter with all the skills she’d need to become a thriving adult. Naturally, they got Hayley involved in Girl Scouts as a Daisy and the rest, as they say, is history. Chris (“Gogo” at camp) leads Troop 1237 with 9 girls currently in the troop with Jerry actively involved at her side. The girls attend Mill Creek Middle School and together have come up with innovative service projects that get them involved and more importantly, doing things as a family.

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Spending time together is at the core of what Chris and Jerry want for their family. Because of Girl Scouts, this family has grown from three to a small community that is Troop 1237. “I enjoy being with my family. Not only with my wife and daughter, but the other girls in your troop, being together from kindergarten on, they’re like your adopted daughters in a way or at least a couple times a month when Girl Scouts meets,” Jerry said. The troop actively involves parents through campouts, overnights at the Omaha Zoo, group activities and service projects.

Jerry has been involved in everything he can with Girl Scouts and loves watching his daughter grow. At day camp he helps run stations, plan activities and assist the teens. One of his favorite things is watching Hayley grow into a young leader that other girls look up to. “I love watching them develop and go from being the one who idolizes to the one being idolized,” Jerry said. There’s something extra special for him watching his daughter be the one that girls jump into the arms of when they’re leaving day camp.

The family is incredibly proud of the fact that Troop 1237 has completed their Bronze Award, is working on their Silver Award and at least 2/3 of the girls are planning to go for Gold! Their Bronze Award project was a Frozen Party for younger troops that Jerry loved getting to help with. In addition to Highest Award projects, the troop does service projects for their former elementary school serving as photographers for school events and performed a flag ceremony for a local veterans’ ceremony.

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Jerry and the other awesome parents in the troop can’t wait to see where their girls go and they’re noticing increasing parent involvement across the Service Unit. At the 2016 day camp, Jerry said he noticed more dads getting involved than ever before and it’s great to not feel like the only guy around anymore. “There’s no reason dads can’t be involved just because it’s Girl Scouts. It lets your daughters know that you think they’re worth your time,” said Jerry. His biggest advice: “Don’t be afraid to go,” Jerry said. We love Jerry’s advice!

We thank Jerry O’Keefe and all the other awesome Girl Scout families that work hard to give girls absolutely amazing experiences. From day camps to service projects to camping, Jerry O’Keefe is there for it all and a great example of someone who’s “Man Enough to be a Girl Scout!”

If you know of an awesome dad or male caregiver, share his story in the comments below!

The sweet success of being a Girl Scout

Gold Award Alumna Spotlight – Heather Magee

When Girl Scouts runs in the family, girls know they are destined for greatness. Meet Heather Magee, a 3rd generation Girl Scout, Gold Award Alumna and volunteer who is passionate about the leadership and business programs Girl Scouts offers. She’s also the artist behind the floral arrangements at the 2016 Inspire a Girl event that made the room beautiful. A dedicated Product Sales Manager, Heather Magee shows that when Girl Scouts is in your blood, you never grow out of it.

Heather grew up in Stewartsville, MO where she joined as a Brownie and was one of the first Girl Scouts in her town. Of the original troop, three of the girls continued through high school and completed their Gold Award, setting the bar high for any girls who followed in their footsteps. The troop camped at Camp Woodland in Albany, MO and were in charge of the “work and play weekend” where they helped get the camp ready for the spring and helped close the camp in late fall. It was one of her early introductions to a life of service that she fondly remembers.

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4 Generations: Sheryl (Mother), Heather, Twila (Grandmother), Kinley (Niece), Erin (Sister) & Allie (Niece)

As a Scouting family, Heather’s siblings often accompanied her at day camp and other events. Her sister, Erin, is also a 3rd generation Girl Scout (her daughter  Allie is a 4th generation Girl Scout) and brother, Adam, is a 3rd generation Boy Scout (2nd generation Eagle Scout) and his sons, AJ & Ryan, are following in his footsteps to start the next generation of Eagle Scouts. “My sister and brother were always tagalongs at events and camping. We have [Scouting] in our blood. My grandma was even our cookie manager at the time, which I do in Oak Grove now,” Heather said. Both Erin and Heather earned their Gold Award and their mother earned her First Class Award. Talk about a family of achievers!

For her Gold Award project, Heather did improvements to the softball field at her high school. Her project entailed building stairs and a railing to help fans get to the field safely as well as planting flowers and doing general improvements. While the Gold Award project wasn’t easy, she feels like she learned a lot. “It’s one of the hardest things you’ll ever do that you’ll also have the most appreciation for. It’s hard, it’s stressful, but you learn a lot of things you wouldn’t otherwise. When you’re a shy person, having to get out and talk to people, it drew things out of me,” Heather said.

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The process of completing a Gold Award can be daunting, and Heather knows how scary it can be to look at all the work that has to go into it. However, as someone who completed the project, she knows just how valuable completing the project was to her life. “I think what scares a lot of people is that it is a lot of work and some people take that the wrong way. But just doing all that work and going through the process, it’s so rewarding at the end and you don’t see it until you get there,” Heather said.  Completing the project helped her have the courage to face her next big life step – attending Graceland University in Iowa to study Commercial Design.

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Today, Heather loves getting to be involved as a Girl Scout volunteer and watching her nieces embark on their Girl Scout journey. Her main volunteer role is as serving as Product Sales Manager for Service Unit 644. “I like everything about Girl Scouts and I call cookie season ‘Cookietopia’ because I just love it so much. The organization, the colors and the program, I love it all. I think I got it from my grandmother because she served as cookie manager for 15 years,” Heather said.

At the end of the day, it’s all about the personal benefits that service has for Heather. “Giving back, volunteering, that changes a person. I think that helps you, just in general, become a better person by giving back to the community,” Heather said. This dedication is exactly what Girl Scouts learn by being in a program focused on service.

The Cookie Program is an incredible experience for girls but takes a lot of work for our volunteers, so we can’t thank Heather enough for her service. In addition to her gift of time, Heather gives financial gifts through Daisy’s Circle, the monthly giving program through GSKSMO. She’s even a Founding Member of the program! In addition, Heather is also a Lifetime Member of Girl Scouts. Thank you, Heather for inspiring the next generation and for living a life of service.

If you know of another amazing Girl Scout Highest Award Alumna, share her story in the comments below!

 

GSKSMO Takes Savannah!

On June 27th, 22 Girl Scout Cadettes, volunteers and GSKSMO staff left Kansas City for a trip of a Girl Scout lifetime – to visit Savannah, Georgia with EF Tours!

It was an early morning for this group following Girl Scout Day at the K; they convened at 5:30 am but that didn’t dampen their excitement! When they arrived in Savannah that afternoon they hit the ground running…literally…on a scavenger hunt! This took them all around the historic district, visiting the district squares and the Federal Courthouse. That evening they had a hearty dinner at The Pirate’s House and then took a Trolley Tour that highlighted Savannah’s unique historical past and the events that have pegged Savannah as “America’s Most Haunted City.” They heard many stories of Savannah’s historically dark background from war, burnings (Savannah has burned down THREE times), pirates, illness (yellow fever), and other tragedies. They were fascinated!

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On their second day in Savannah, they traveled to Juliette Gordon Low’s Birthplace for an art session on self-portraits and learned more about female artists like Frida Kahlo and Judith Leyster! They discussed self-expression as well as themes and symbolism in some famous female self-portraits and made personal collages reflecting themselves!

Following the art lesson they went on a tour of Juliette’shome and saw her extensive art collection. The tour concluded with an interactive exhibit called “a library reimagined” where they experienced inclusive books, listened to videos and wrote poetry.Day2

After exploring the city a bit and eating lunch, the group reconvened to visit the Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum where they learned about the USS Juliette Low and earned a Rogues & Rouge Patch that involved the history of female pirates like Anne Bonney and Mary Read!

 

Their third day in Savannah took them out on the Atlantic Ocean for a visit to Tybee Island! They encountered marine life in tide pools like crabs, mussels, clams and also on the beach with starfish and horseshoe crabs. They also went on a dolphin cruise along the coast where they saw over 20 dolphins!

That afternoon they visited Old Fort Jackson for a lesson on the Militia Program! They participated in a role play workshop where they were taught marching, saluting and about life as a soldier during the Civil War and saw a cannon actually fire!

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The fourth and final day was no less exciting than the first three; EF Tours did a great job sending them out of Savannah with a bang! Their final hours included a tour of the Andrew Low House and photos outside the front gate with the lions that Juliette petted everyday while she lived in the house. They also visited the first Girl Scout Headquarters which started out as a Carriage House, then was Juliette’s garage and eventually the first Headquarters building! The tour guides talked to them about the history of the uniform (the green didn’t come along until after Juliette’s passing) and Girl Scout programs like cookies and outdoor adventure (and they found out what the new cookie will be for the 100th anniversary)- shh… we can’t tell you quite yet, but get ready for National S’MORES Day on August 10th!

The group made it back safely to Kansas City the evening of June 30 with stories to tell for a lifetime!

Have you visited the birthplace of Girl Scouts?! Tell us about your trip in the comments below!

We’re going to be announcing our next set of Council-Sponsored Trips soon so be sure to keep an eye on all our social media channels (@gsksmo) or on our Council-Sponsored Trip webpage!